Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Painting and pondering at Jentel Art Residency in Wyoming.


As I cull images for this post, my heart aches. I'm looking thru the hundreds of photos and videos I took of the landscape, and I recall my frustration that I could never adequately document my experience of this immense environment where I resided for four weeks.


It's hard to capture the endless undulation of grey-green hills, and the way they briefly turned orange as the sun was setting; the delight I felt at seeing so many horses, antelope, porcupines, cattle, and birds. The stark beauty of those tree-less hills accented by outcroppings of scoria; the marmots, the cowboys, the buffalo, the bones – so many bones scattered throughout the fields! We affectionately coined one area "Death Valley" because of the mounds of cattle bones we found there. 

Chamberlain, South Dakota oil on canvas 30" x 40" 2019

I arrived at Jentel after three long days of driving. I'm a new driver so that was a huge challenge for me.

"Iowa Windmills" oil on canvas 40" x 30" 2019
"I Want to Hide in Meadows" Oil on paper 22.5" x 30" 2019

In the first days of the residency I made paintings about it, trying to capture the dizzying spectacle of all the new places I encountered and the anxiety I experienced driving on all those interstates. 

After I got that out of my system, I was able to work more with the paint, and experiment with my marks and materials. I was trying to capture the naive enchantment I felt towards the landscape and the animals. I experimented with a new canvas that absorbs paint in a different way that I'm used to, inspiring a new approach and a more stylized outcome.

Wyoming landscapes, acrylic on synthetic  canvas

At some point I began dragging my materials outside, letting the rain and wind become a part of the process. I used rocks to create peeks and valleys like the ones I was looking at, as a way to create different kinds of drips and marks. I let leaves and bugs get blown into the paint. I left a painting in a rainstorm overnight.



The landscape urged the creative process, and I didn't want to ignore the environmental challenges of painting outside. I can't pretend such things don't have an effect on the painting process – the hot sun on my neck, the frigid wind, or the cold rain numbing my fingers.

Jentel Plein Air acrylic on canvas approx. 50" x 60"

"The Thousands"acrylic on canvas approx. 42" x 55"

"Wyoming Flowers" acrylic on paper 22.5" x 30" 2019

"Magpies" mixed media on paper 22.5" x 30" 2019

"Lower Piney Creek" acrylic on paper 22.5" x 30"
Ultimately these paintings were completed in the shelter of my studio, but their impetus was commanded by the landscape and my relationship to it.

It was beyond incredible to have a huge studio and all the time in the world to paint or hike the thousands of rugged acres surrounding the site. These images probably represent 60% of the work I produced during my four weeks in residence. 

Thanks for the journey, Jentel! Give my best to Wyoming. Love, Ursula


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Mining the Edges of a Pre-invented Existence.





Mining the Edges of a Pre-invented Existence 

on view at 
Window (re/production|re/presentation)
March 18 - July 18, 2019
54 Broadway, Asheville, NC 
(Henco Reprographics, south window)


Project Statement
The original printed image came to me matted and framed behind glass – one of many that was used to decorate the rooms of a local hotel. Presumably the image was chosen for its nostalgic narrative and non-threatening aesthetic, and maybe that is the kind of image that conveys comfort to travelers. 
Original Print (blurry because it's behind glass.)
Using a packing knife, I cut into the image to extract elements such as an evergreen tree, cottages, church-goers, and the formidable church steeple – revealing an underlying layer of white foam core. (Foam core is polystyrene product developed in 1957 by the Monsanto corporation, which is neither recyclable or biodegradable.) I reassembled the parts to make "Dazed." 

"Dazed" re-purposed print with acrylic paint on board 16" x 20"
Detail
I created a digitized composite of the physical artwork using my flatbed scanner (which blurred out some areas and sharpened others.) I manipulated the image through use of the "magic eraser" and "content-fill" tools in Photoshop. The former tool selectively mines pixels and deletes them. The latter collects and reproduces visual information based on algorithms and artificial intelligence. Both tools struck me as perfect metaphors for how information is disseminated to a population.

"Mining the Edges of a Pre-invented Existence" digital composite.
Detail
Elements of the title, "Mining the Edges of a Pre-invented Existence" were extracted from the pages of Close to the Knives, a Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz.

The final image has been printed onto vinyl, and is currently on display in the south-window of Henco Reprographics as part of Window (re/production|re/presentation), a site-specific minimalist exhibition space in downtown Asheville. 

Window (re/production|re/presentation) is a long-term public art project that aims to stimulate thoughtful discussion around timely issues of re-production and re-presentation within contemporary art in the local community and beyond. The primary focus is upon works that repurpose found or archival source materials; challenge notions of originality and authenticity; stimulate perceptual phenomena through reiteration or duplication; implement re-photography as a critical component; or embrace re-production as essential to the work. 

Visit www.windowcontemporary.org for more information.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Living and sustaining a creative life


Friends often ask me how to go about creating a career as an artist. This question usually comes from people who have managed to have lucrative careers in other fields, have seen their parents in successful careers, and/or who have raised children who are now pursuing careers of their own. Some people think that art is a business choice, and if you simply make enough paintings, you will sell them, and therefore you will be profitable, and successful.

My own career as an artist has never been linear or easily explained. Like many artists I know, painting was always a vocation, a calling, a necessity. When I began painting I hoped, at best, to sell enough work to enable me to continue to purchase materials, rent a studio, and have time to make more paintings.

For 23 years I worked in the food service industry, because it was the most flexible job choice for me. I could easily slide in and out of jobs, save money, travel minimally, and make my art. I intuitively understood that a "real" job would rob me of the time I required for those pursuits.

And, I lived hand-to-mouth most of the time. I saved as much as possible. I didn't own a car, I didn't have health insurance, and I didn't have kids. I've always rented, and I'm proud that I have always been debt-free. Two years ago I married someone who fully supports my lifestyle, and who picks up my financial slack if necessary.

I tell people to pursue what you love because then you will get good at what you love. When you do something long enough you are considered an expert at it, and that's when people seek you out, and the money comes back to you. Don't spend your time getting good at something you don't love.

I want to write so much more about the economic realities of being an artist. For now, I will say that most freelancers (artists, writers, musicians, designers, etc) must diversify their income. This is sometimes scary and it sometimes means taking a leap of faith. Recently I've been creating online videos, and tutorials that can be purchased for a nominal fee. I also teach private and public classes, and sell paintings to make a living. Some years are more profitable than others.

For me, being an artist is not just about painting in my studio – it is an entire lifestyle through which I've learned to become resourceful and inventive. For example, I like to re-use sketches and old paintings. In the past I've cut up paintings to make weavings and sculptures, and I've used refuse in my artwork that I'd normally throw out. This way of working has always been a fun challenge for me, and I challenge you to try the same approach in your own studio.

Watch: Mixed Media Mash-up with Paper and Paint combining old sketches and paintings in a work of art.

Read: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life.  Books edited by Sharon Louden containing essays by working artists showing the reality of how artists -- from the unknown to the established -- juggle their creative lives with the everyday needs of making a living.




Saturday, May 19, 2018

Projections at NC Art Museum | Raleigh, NC | May, 2018








As part of the You Are Here exhibition, the NC Art Museum hosted two weeks of interactive light graffiti workshops, parties, and workshops with Austrian artist collective OMAi, May 15–26.

I had the the opportunity to work with Markus and Matthais of OMAi to create paintings and animations to be projected on the side of the East Building of the museum for a Night Bright Community Festival Friday, May 26. It was a pleasure collaborating with them!
More images and video on my Instagram page.

Monday, March 26, 2018

CRITIQUE GROUP DATES



Are you taking a lot of classes but still yearning for more critical feedback and community with other artists? I am heading up a Critique Group that will meet several times during spring and summer for arts discussion, networking and creative discovery.


MEETING DATES & TIMES

Sat. APRIL 7    10am - 12pm
Sat. APRIL 21  10am - 12pm
Sat. MAY 12     
10am - 12pm cancelled.
Sat. JUNE 2     10am - 12pm
Sat. JUNE 23   10am - 12pm

Meeting location will be RAMP Studios at 821 Riverside Drive. (Right behind Cheap Joe's Art Supply.)

Bring 3-6 works of art you've made recently that you would like feedback on. We will look at the work as a group, talk about a specific issue, and you will leave with an personalized assignment or challenge to work on. Each participant will be encouraged to develop her/his own creative perspective and body of work. Our long term plan is to coordinate a group exhibition, and work on individual marketing strategies. 

Cost: $25 per session. $15 if you want to just listen in. Pay as you attend.

Space is limited. The first five people who RSVP are guaranteed peer feedback. Please contact me directly at ursulagullow@gmail.com if you are interested and/or have questions. You are not required to come to each meeting. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Under the Sea at the North Carolina Art Museum, May 17.


I'm delighted to be included in a fun outdoor art festival at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC on Thursday, May 17th. The theme is "Underwater Love" which suits my Cancerian sensibilities, and my Disney sea witch namesake.

I will be working with OMai to create an animated painting that will be projected on the side of one of the museum buildings. OMai created TagTool, a software that allows artists to create animated projections in real time.  I'll also be heading up a pop-up art project for festival-goers. I'm particularly looking forward to this opportunity to create an interactive project with the public.

More details and photos to come.


Monday, December 11, 2017

New Land, Old Land

I recently closed on a two-acre parcel of land in Delaware County, NY. It's located in the NYC Watershed, and there is a moratorium on industrial development so that the waters are kept free of hazardous materials. Basically it's like acquiring land in the middle of a national park. This is the land where I grew up. (The grey building in the photo is the house I grew up in.) For now my little parcel of land is mostly milkweeds so I like to think of it as a butterfly sanctuary. I have dreams of one day establishing an artist retreat, or a land art garden, or a sustainable berry farm. I will continue to post updates as things develop.